Israel accused of rights abuses

An Israeli human rights group has accused the country’s government of using Palestinians as human shields during its raids on Nablus.The Israeli supreme court banned the practice two years ago.
The claim from B’tselem, a human rights monitor, came after video footage appeared to show Israeli soldiers forcing a man to walk ahead at gunpoint.

Sameh Amira, a 24-year-old Nablus resident, said he thought he was going to die: “When I was walking ahead of them, I was expecting they would shoot bullets at any time.
“All the time I was scared, terrorised. I was expecting anything from them. That I would be injured and die in front of them.
“[The Israeli soldiers] said ’come here’ and they put me ahead of them and took me up to the house. As soon as they were in, they started shooting at the wardrobe,” Amira said.

Amira is being led by Israeli soldiers at gunpoint [AP]

Jessica Montell, executive director of B’tselem – the Israeli information centre for human rights in the occupied territories – said: “It’s a clear case – the Israeli supreme court has determined it is illegal and the Israeli military has committed to not using this ’neighbour’ procedure or any other kind of human shield by using Palestinians for these dangerous operations.”
In a faxed message, an Israeli spokesperson said the army had seen the footage and does not see any instance of the illegal use of civilians.
However, the statement pledged to pursue a thorough inquiry.
Fifty-thousand Nablus residents were placed under curfew last weekend when Israeli security forces sealed off the centre of the town and began a house-to-house search for fighters.
One Palestinian was killed during the operation. Israel says they found three explosives laboratories and detained a number of suspects.